DOT Notice of Public Hearing and Opportunity to Comment on Proposed Traffic Rules--Pedal Assist Bicycles

Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments (View Public Comments Received:31)

Comment By: 
Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Statement of Basis and Purpose of Proposed Rule


The Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) is authorized to issue rules regarding parking and traffic operations in the City pursuant to Section 2903(a) of the New York City Charter.  The rules that DOT is seeking to amend are contained within Chapter 4 of Title 34 of the Rules of the City of New York, relating to its “Traffic Rules.”


On April 3, 2018, Mayor de Blasio announced that the City will sanction low-speed pedal-assist bicycles that operate with the assistance of human power, specifying the exact type of permissible equipment. E-bikes possessing throttle capacity, or any capacity to operate without human power, remain illegal under State and local law.


In its announcement, the City outlined the following benefits of pedal-assist bicycles:


Increased Cycling Options for Delivery Workers and Commuters: This proposed rule will help meet the City’s goals of doubling the number of active cyclists by 2020.  In addition to creating more ways to get around in neighborhoods and areas underserved by transit, the proposed rule will be helpful for those considering new commuting options during the closure of the L train tunnel starting in April 2019. The Williamsburg Bridge currently has over 7,000 daily bicycling trips; during the tunnel closure, cycling trips over the bridge are expected to more than double.


Health and Sustainability: Pedal-assist bicycles contain a rechargeable battery that can be used to travel longer distances or boost power going up hills -- and are among the fastest-growing and most environmentally sound modes of urban travel, both around the U.S. and around the world.  One European study has shown substantial health and environmental benefits, including that pedal-assist bicycles increase cycling, especially among older users.  Research has also shown that pedal-assist bicycle trips most often replace car trips; with the ability to avoid car traffic and parking costs, trips on pedal-assist bicycles are usually both faster and cheaper.



The proposed rule provides a transportation alternative that is legal, sustainable (zero-emission) and safe.


The purpose of this proposed rule amendment is to clarify that pedal-assist bicycles meeting the requirements of these rules are legal to operate in New York City.  This proposed rule will recognize that pedal-assist bicycles are permissible, whereas throttle e-bikes, capable of travel at speeds over 20 MPH, may not be legally operated on public highways, which include streets, under State and city law.  Specifically, the amendments to the Traffic Rules being proposed are as follows:


  • Section 4-01 adds a new definition for “pedal-assist bicycle” and clarifies the definition of “bicycle” to include pedal-assist bicycles.


  • Section 4-12(p)(5) is a new paragraph that establishes the specific rules that apply to pedal-assist bicycles.
Public Hearing


Public Hearing Date: 
Tuesday, May 29, 2018 - 1:30pm

No contact

55 Water Street, Concourse Level Entrance is located on the SE corner of 55 Water Street facing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza
New York, NY 10041